Connecting your mental and physical health
Everyone knows that you need to care for both your physical and mental health, but did you know that the two are connected? Modern science tells us that physical health problems can lead to mental illness while issues like depression or anxiety can lead to medical problems.
Let’s take a look at how mental and physical health impacts each other and the steps you can take to improve your overall health.
The Gut-Brain Connection
Did you ever feel nauseous when worried? This reaction is caused by our body’s gut-brain connection. Our gut is lined with millions of microbes, which form an ecosystem called the microbiome. When it’s unhealthy, it can cause mental health problems.
Did you know that the gut microbes of people with psychiatric disorders such as PTSD are different from people with good mental health? Research shows that the microbiome in our gut is connected to personality traits, psychological states, social behavior, and even our moods. Simply put, the health of our gut affects how we feel and behave.
Poor Physical Health and Its Drain On Your Brain
What other ways can your physical health be impacted by your brain? According to the University of Washington’s Memory & Brain Wellness Center, a disrupted or dysfunctional microbiome may be implicated in the following:
- inflammatory bowel disease
- blood cancers
- Alzheimer’s disease
These are far more serious issues than a stress-induced upset stomach, but we can all agree that protecting the health of your microbiome is a good idea.
Who Can Be Affected
Who is affected by these physical or mental disorders? It’s not always obvious. Some unlikely candidates include:
- Recently, several famous athletes have shared their mental health Sports stars and other people who work out heavily may think they are immune to health issues but they must pay close attention to these issues.
- Children’s behavior can be affected by poor gut health too, such as anger, aggression, and tantrums. Parents would be wise to make sure their kids are getting a nutritious and healthy diet.
If you are dealing with a surge of negative emotions or experiencing changes in your body, make sure you’re not experiencing poor gut health. Symptoms of an unhealthy gut include:
- Frequent upset stomach issues
- Weight changes
- Skin irritations, like eczema or back acne
- GERD symptoms that may indicate acid reflux disease
Taking Care of Your Total Health
The best way to prevent these and other medical issues, like high blood pressure or varicose veins, is to stay active and healthy. Follow these tips to protect your body and mind:
Good gut health is a must. You can accomplish that by reducing your intake of carbs and sugary foods or drinks. A good probiotic might also be helpful.
Be sure to take in enough nutrients to fuel all your body’s processes and organs. For example, good eye health requires essential fatty acids, vitamins C and E, lutein, zinc, and zeaxanthin. A diet filled with fish, fresh produce and dairy, legumes, and healthy meat options can provide all you need.
Exercise contributes to both physical and mental health. The benefits of running, for example, include improving your good cholesterol and getting fit. However, it can also help fight depression and boost your mood.
Which exercise is best? Talk to your doctor to make sure there isn’t something you need to avoid. Typically, a healthy mix of low-impact exercises, like yoga, and high-impact, like CrossFit, are recommended.
The most important thing is to make sure you enjoy it enough to work out a few times a week!
Despite what you may have heard, all adults over 18 years old need at least 7 hours of sleep per night. For kids aged one to 18, those numbers go up to 8 to 14 hours, and babies require even more. That means that many adults and teens do not get the sleep they need to function.
Improve your sleep by setting a regular schedule that includes time to wind down before sleeping. Don’t eat or drink too close to bedtime and avoid spicy foods or caffeine in the evening.
To get the best rest, avoid reading books or watching shows that can agitate or excite you before bed. Make sure your bedroom is fully dark at night. If you struggle to fall asleep, use white noise to lull you to sleep.
Manage Your Stress
Good mental health during the pandemic health crisis has been challenging. Lockdowns, job loss, illness, death, and numerous other traumatizing issues have increased the stress and anxiety of many people.
You can never eliminate all the stress in your life, however, you must learn to manage it. Providing space for daily emotional self-care like prayer, meditation, or quiet time can help.
Another excellent way to combat stress is to keep a daily gratitude list. Every day, write down three things you are grateful for, even simple items like breath in your lungs or food on the table. This goes a long way to creating peace and calm in your life.
Get Regular Check-Ups
See your doctor regularly to ensure that you are in good health. Testing and monitoring for issues that commonly impact people your age is crucial to catch issues before they become a problem. This also helps contribute to your peace of mind.
Your mental and physical health work hand-in-hand to keep you alive and functioning. Take good care of yourself to ensure that both are functioning well so you can live a rich and satisfying life.
Guest post by Luke Smith
Tags: behavioral health, Creating a Healthy Lifestyle in Recovery, crossroads health, health services, healthy living, lake county, mental and physical health, mental health, mental health facility, mental health treatment, Mentor Ohio, physical health, youth mental health